A lovelorn 29-year-old in Birmingham, Ala., is crowdsourcing his soulmate search, and there are some things he wants you to know: He works 12 hours a day. He plays cornhole shirtless. He wants a girl who “knows the difference between ‘Astronomy’ and ‘Astrology.'” And in case any of this sounds dubious, he has photos to prove that he’s neither a Nigerian prince nor two midgets in a trenchcoat.
Meet Ren Lu You, the Harvard Business School graduate behind dateren.com.
The site, launched last week by the McLean native, offers $10,000 to anyone who introduces him to a woman that he dates for more than six months. You has already received thousands of responses — half of them from women submitting themselves.
His admirers hail from IP addresses as distant as Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia. While some might consider this a red flag for scams, You has judged these overseas propositions to be “sincere.” He even received an earnest e-mail from someone offering to sift through his submissions as an unpaid intern.
Prior to this windfall, You had tried a slew of dating methods, from getting set up by friends to the Tinder app. After going through a “mixed bag” of several dozen dates, he came away unsatisfied.
“I was an econ major in college and I work in finance now,” You says, “so I think a lot about how markets can make things more efficient.”
This new plan may have backfired a little. Two nights ago, he stayed up until 4 a.m. combing through his crowded inbox. You had initially planned to respond to all the submissions, a feat that now appears to be impossible.
Despite the flood of prospective girlfriends, professional matchmakers are skeptical of the venture. D.C. matchmaker Michelle Jacoby cautions that because he’s asking strangers to play Cupid, they may not have his best interests at heart in the way that a friend would.
Still, she applauds You for being proactive about finding The One, even if it means that “he may go broke on dinner dates.”
Maria Avgitidis, founder of the New York City-based Agape Match, says the monetary reward and public nature of You’s campaign make him susceptible to fraud. After all, what’s to stop two friends from “pulling a Bonnie and Clyde” and splitting the cash after a six-month ruse?
Pointing out that the bachelor has already done interviews with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and People magazine, she adds, “He clearly has no shame.” Single women who might otherwise have found You attractive are likely to be turned off by the media attention that they would receive for dating him. “This guy sounds like an incredible narcissist,” Avgitidis says. “Our clients would never do anything like this.”
But You insists that his aims are pure. “I just want to find somebody who is really great, to date them and be their boyfriend,” he says. “Who knows where it might go from there?”
Though he has been contacted by a TLC representative about potentially starring in a reality show, You has no interest in becoming “an F-List celebrity, like Pauly D or whatever-his-name-is on Jersey Shore.” He already has his hands full as an associate at a private equity firm — “a real job.”
At the very least, You’s dating profile now has more hits than it ever would have gotten on OkCupid, and he has yet to pay anyone a cent.